It isn’t lost on me that I’m about to start doing for a living what I’ve spent my recent weeks critiquing as it’s done by others! That work will continue uninterrupted, by the way. So I’d better have my game face on, eh?
On our way back from a one-day trip to Sudbury and back, we did what we like to do on the road and that’s scan the dial for radio stations. You never know what or who you’re going to hear, from Southern preachers wailing to recent college grads peeping out their first few words on the airwaves to news anchors who have been broadcasting since the Big Bang.
I hit upon a rock station with a very energetic young talent on the air. He did something that I wish I had recorded so I could play it to each and every broadcasting student in the country to explain what NOT to do when you’re on the radio. You want to be engaging. You want to relate. You want to make your listener happy, not sad. I will try to recreate it for you.
This guy came in on the end of a classic rock song, you know, one of those tunes that has a killer finish that everyone knows and wants to hear. This dude yapped over the best part of the music and did so only to be self-serving. He said something to the effect of, “Ohhhhh, I’ve gotta crank this up to get the full effect of this mix!” Then he mixed in the next song and continued “Ahhhh, am I great or what???” I may have yelled at my radio.
Several things went wrong. First, he ruined a beloved song. Second, he made the entire “bit” unrelatable because it was only about him. Third, the whole “mixing music” thing is very inside and not that interesting to tell a listener of music radio because they’re there for what? Yes, the music! He would have been better off to just do the mix and let it BE incredible on its own without calling attention to it and his self-described expert mixing prowess. Frankly, he sounded like a tool. There was nothing in that moment for the listener. It was How Not To Do Radio 101 and it was a classic. Don’t try this at home, kids, and please, don’t ever try it on the air.